Freedom ISN’T free — that’s why we pay taxes.

Via Laura Conaway | Maddow Blog:

In theory, President Obama preserved the possibility of new revenue in the future through raising taxes on the wealthy and closing loopholes. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is on the Twitters saying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that it could happen “is absolutely false. House Republicans will not agree to tax increases. Period.”

Careful watchers of Congress — and this show — will remember that in March, Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee proposed lowering the deficit with a magic elixir of 85 percent spending cuts and 15 percent new revenue. Steely Democrats countered with an offer of 87 percent spending cuts and 13 percent new revenue. Which is how we got to this deal, with 100 percent spending cuts and the hope (or not) of new revenue.


The debt ceiling budget deal: spending cuts with no tax hikes for the wealthy–at least for right now

Here’s a fact sheet from the White House: “Bipartisan Debt Deal,” and Obama explaining the deal:

The President says the deal was not “what I would have preferred,”but said it will “allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest America.” Most importantly, it will ensure we don’t have to repeat the crisis in coming months… [via Think Progress].

Bob Cesca’s summary:

It’s difficult for me to write an “upside” post about the deal because I don’t think there’s an upside. Say it along with me now: spending cuts in a slow growth recovery are a terrible, ridiculous, utterly stupid thing to do. I understand the calculus that there had to be a deal or else we’d default. I get it. It’s better than a global economic crisis. But that doesn’t mean I have to accept a less harmful crisis that will surely ensue by this austerity.

[...] Social Security isn’t cut — yet. Medicaid isn’t cut — yet. But there are still massive spending cuts and no tax increases on the super rich. And it might not even pass.

And from Matt Yglesias:

Here’s the White House’s explanation of the budget deal. Long story short, a lot of spending cuts! The first tranche of cuts is balanced between defense and non-defense elements and will be implemented immediately. The second, larger tranche of cuts won’t happen until at least 2013 (the good news) and could take a variety of different specific forms depending on exactly what happens. In theory, taxes can be raised in lieu of cuts but in practice nothing about the composition of the committee makes that seem like a remotely plausible outcome.

And from Thomas Lane | TPM:

Even if the bill passes the Senate it still has to make its way through the House. Speaker John Boehner provided the GOP caucus with a power-point presentation to try to sell them on the plan. However, he faces a sizable conservative rump that is still unsatisfied, largely because of concerns about defense cuts and the now-downgraded (and ludicrous) Balanced Budget Amendment.

On the other side of the aisle, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has to hand her Democrats a plan that many regard as an utter capitulation to the Republicans. A progressive backlash is already underway. The bill has until Tuesday to clear both chambers and land on the President’s desk.

It ain’t over until it’s over and it’s far from over with this new deal.

Sidenote: if you’re a Lib / Prog / Dem who didn’t bother to vote in 2010, just STFU. Don’t even talk about the budget deal and what Obama ‘should have’ done.

Fact: if the teaparty wins, we all lose

This is what happens when you have Republican freshmen in Congress whose loyalties belong to an astroturf organization rather than to the country they’re supposed to serve. No vote was taken last night on Boehner’s plan:

The end of John Boehner? | Salon

What we’ve suspected all along can now be asserted with confidence: John Boehner is a SINO — Speaker-in-name-only. And after what went down — or, more accurately, what didn’t go down — in the House on Thursday night, it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll even be that.

[...] Over and over again during this debt ceiling ordeal, Boehner has been undercut by the true believers in the GOP’s ranks. Last week seemed embarrassing enough, when Boehner was forced to invent excuses for backing out of a “grand bargain” that, at virtually any other point in modern history, would have been considered a massive political victory for the GOP. But his humiliation on Thursday night — unable to convince his own party to sign off on a plan that would prevent a default, trim about $1 trillion from the deficit, not raise a single new cent in revenue and allow the GOP to play this hostage game with Obama all over again in a few months — seems far, far worse.

This isn’t patriotism. When you want to watch your country burn, it’s exactly the opposite.


1. The crime of betraying one’s country, esp. by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.
2. The action of betraying someone or something.  More »


I wonder how guilty McCain feels right about now for Sarah Palin and and the way he ran his campaign in 2008? In other words, for how he started this entire mess. Here he tells the freshmen members to stop lying and to stop being ‘bizarro’ (via Politicsususa):

Obama’s biggest mistake…

… assuming the Republicans wouldn’t be willing to ruin the economy.

Eight months later, it is clear that Obama drastically underestimated the damage the Tea Partiers, whose hands firmly grip the rudder of the GOP, are willing to inflict on the country to serve their ideology. He failed to realize that when someone says about today’s Republicans, “Well, they’d never go that far,” one should always reply, “Yes, they would.” Nothing is more dangerous than a fundamentalist with visions of righteous carnage dancing in their eyes, and the party’s right wing is in a rapturous frenzy. Tell them that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, we’ll have to shut down nearly half the government—which would mean closing the courts, shuttering the FBI and CIA, abandoning border-patrol posts and air-traffic-control towers and a thousand other things—and they can barely conceal their giddy smiles. Obama may believe that Boehner has no desire to send America into default for the first time in history, and he may be right. But Boehner is a man hanging on to power by his fingernails. And any deal he makes can’t be sold to his own caucus.

Don’t stop burning down the congressional switchboard

Tuesday, July 26:

WASHINGTON — With the United States poised on the brink of a potential default, President Barack Obama appealed to Americans to “make your voice heard” to members of Congress.

They appear to have listened.

Heavy traffic caused a number of websites of members of Congress to crash overnight and the congressional switchboard was deluged with phone calls on Tuesday.

The websites of several members of the House of Representatives and Senate, both Democrat and Republican, were sluggish or simply unavailable, apparently due to the greater than usual volume of visitors.

Let them know you exist and can vote:

What could happen if the debt ceiling isn’t raised next week? You may as well let your representatives in Congress know what should be paid if it’s not raised:

Salon | What happens if the debt ceiling bomb explodes?:

In some quarters of the American political system, there are people — predominantly of the Tea Party Republican persuasion — who believe that Congress doesn’t need to raise the debt ceiling. If the U.S. government isn’t allowed to borrow any more money to pay its bills, runs their line of thinking, that’s fine and dandy. Finally, we’d be forced to tighten our belts and “live within our means!” Ignore the fearmongers predicting disaster — they’re just trying to scare markets and voters.

[...] Let’s start with the basic numbers. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the U.S. Treasury will have about $172.4 billion in revenue in August that can be applied to $306.7 billion in outstanding bills. If the U.S. Treasury is forbidden from borrowing any additional funds, it will therefore have to cut total August spending by about $134 billion, or 44 percent. …Click on over to this cool interactive widget at Bloomberg Government and decide for yourself who gets paid and who doesn’t if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

Spreadsheet breakdown (we have a spending problem but WE ALSO HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM!):

Read the rest….

Related: Policy failures of the GOP: the debt could disappear if the rich paid taxes at 1960s levels

Policy failures of the GOP: the debt could disappear if the rich paid taxes at 1960s levels

Is anyone surprised by this? Yet discussion of increasing tax revenues from the wealthy and corporations is off the table,  no compromise, according to the teaparty Republicans.

If Corporations And The Rich Paid Taxes At The Same Level As The 1960s, The Debt Would Disappear

… [Institute for Policy Studies’ (IPS) Sam] Pizzigati cites an IPS paper from last spring to make the argument that if corporations and households making more than $1 million paid the same rates as they did in 1961, our debt would virtually disappear in a decade:

Some numbers — from an Institute for Policy Studies report released this past spring — can help us better visualize just how monumental this political failure has been. If corporations and households taking in $1 million or more in income each year were now paying taxes at the same annual rates as they did back in 1961, the IPS researchers found, the federal treasury would be collecting an additional $716 billion a year. In other words, if the federal government started taxing the wealthy and their corporations at the same rates in effect a half-century ago, the federal debt to investors would almost totally vanish over the next decade.

As ThinkProgress has previously reported, the richest Americans are paying their lowest taxes in a generation. Additionally, Center for American Progress experts Michael Linden, Seth Hanlon, and Jordan Eizenga have shown that the United States is actually very low-tax compared to other developed countries.

The teaparty Republicans are proposing that we continue this policy failure, with the end game being a failure of our country, failure to protect our middle-class, and failure of a safety net for future generations.

The average teaparty voter certainly isn’t a millionaire. What are you people thinking?

[via: sarahlee310]

The true leader of the teaparty Republican Congress approved Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan yesterday

Boehner had to get the approval of the GOP’s real (but unelected) leader before he moved forward with his debt-ceiling plan. And who better to guide Boehner on cutting safety net programs and services to the poor and middle-class while extending tax cuts, tax loopholes, and tax subsidies for the rich and powerful than Rush Limbaugh?

Boehner briefed Limbaugh on debt plan:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) outlined the GOP’s debt-ceiling plan to conservative commentator [entertainer] Rush Limbaugh on Monday before showing it to his conference.

The conservative radio host said Boehner outlined his two-step plan that includes $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and a $1 trillion hike in the debt ceiling. In the second step, a commission would be appointed to come back with additional deficit-reduction proposals, which the Congress could then vote on.

I can’t imagine what would happen if Pelosi or Reid had to run a plan for some legislation by a liberal media person / entertainer — the Right would kick and scream all over cable news. But I have to say that I’m glad I can’t image Democratic leaders doing that anyway, because IT’S ABSURD!

I guess the teaparty and Republican congress take Rush’s tagline literally: “talent on loan from God.” For anyone who doesn’t know it — Rush made that up, okay? His “talent” (which we could argue about for a week) comes straight from an ego the size of his waistline and consists of “scar[ing] white men as they get in their trucks at lunchtime.”

Artist – David Fitzsimmons via BobCesca

Debt ceiling crisis: what can they disagree on this week?

This should work out well…

U.S. Senate and House of Representatives leaders are preparing separate backup plans to raise the federal debt limit after Congress and the White House failed to come up with a bipartisan agreement Sunday.

The leader of the majority party in the House, John Boehner, called Sunday on his fellow Republicans to support what he called a “new measure” that would involve a short-term extension of the debt ceiling accompanied by a package of spending cuts.  Boehner earlier said he was not sure a bipartisan deal could be reached.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, wants a longer-term deal on the debt ceiling, while also cutting trillions of dollars in spending.

President Barack Obama, the country’s top Democrat, has said he wants an ambitious debt-reduction package that would keep the issue off the agenda until after the 2012 general elections.

August 2 is the deadline for raising the debt ceiling and allowing the federal government to continue to borrow money.  The Obama administration and congressional leaders had hoped to announce a framework for an agreement before Asian financial markets opened Monday.  But that time passed with no deal announced.

Global investors have been closely watching the debt ceiling discussions.  Some large investors fear major credit-rating firms could downgrade the high U.S. rating.

You know, both sides agree there should be spending cuts. Just throwing that out there. They can’t agree on spending cuts COMBINED with more tax revenues from the rich and powerful, so now they’re writing separate plans with the Republicans wanting a short-term debt ceiling raise while Democrats want a long-term deal. Oy.

A letter from Ronald Reagan

Would Republican teapartyers have listened to Ronald Reagan? (via pantslessprogressive — emphasis mine):

CLEVER POLITICKING ON THE DEBT CEILING. On Wednesday afternoon, every House Republican will receive a letter urging them to raise the debt ceiling.

Or, rather, a letter from President Ronald Reagan to Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker in 1983 urging Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

Dear Howard:

This letter is to ask for your help and support, and that of your colleagues, in the passage of an increase in the limit on the public debt.

As Secretary Regan has told you, the Treasury’s cash balances have reached a dangerously low point. Henceforth, the Treasury Department cannot guarantee that the Federal Government will have sufficient cash on any one day to meet all of its mandated expenses, and thus the United States could be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history.

This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the cost, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.

I want to thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent problem and for your assistance in passing an extension of the debt ceiling.


Ronald Reagan

Image of the letter after the cut: Continue reading

(Cartoon) Debt crisis — letting the ship sink

[image: reagan-was-a-horrible-president]

American corporations have a record amount of cash that they REFUSE to invest domestically

…but they WILL lobby for tax breaks. Constantly. 

Think Progress reports (emphasis mine):

As of July 13, 29 public companies had more cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury Department, according to the site Zero Hedge based on numbers from Capital IQ.

[...] In the first half of July alone, Treasury cash balances were depleted from from $130 billion to just $39 billion. That means the most powerful nation on earth currently is tied with Google for the amount of cash that it has, and is less flush than Bank of America, JP Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, among others.

[...] Several Republican candidates have called for drastically lowering the corporate tax rate, while congressional Republicans are refusing to concede in debt ceiling negotiations that corporate tax loopholes should be closed to give the government more much-needed revenue.

The Treasury’s cash balances will go back up once more revenue comes in, but on Aug. 3, the government’s savings account will be nearly empty and President Obama would be relying on daily tax revenue to pay the nation’s bills. But there won’t be enough — in fact, there would be a $134 billion shortfall in August alone. The small amount of money available to the Treasury will leave the government facing impossible choices about what to cut.

The teaparty pledge really should be:

“I pledge allegiance to the rich, of the United States of America, and screw the republic for which it stands, one nation under Wall Street, untaxable, with deregulation and wealth for 1%.”


“Cut, Cap, Balance — and cause 700,000 Americans to lose their jobs — Act”

Oh, Republicans… you so crazy!

The “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act” would require cuts totaling $111 billion immediately, in the fiscal year that starts 75 days from now, despite a 9.2 percent unemployment rate.  These cuts would equal 0.7 percent of the projected Gross Domestic Product in fiscal year 2012 and would thus cause the loss of roughly 700,000 jobs in the current weak economy, relative to what the number of jobs otherwise would be.

Brian Beutler explains that it’s the wingnuts at Club for Growth pushing this current insanity:

“Cut, Cap, and Balance will fix our fiscal mess. The McConnell-Reid plan does not,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement accompanying an alert that these votes will be counted on the group’s scorecard. “McConnell-Reid simply punts our budget problem further down the road and is everything that’s wrong with Washington. Congress has proven that they are unable to balance the budget without reform. Cut, Cap and Balance is the only plan that permanently handcuffs politicians from spending more money than they take in.”

If you’re a Republican, voting for Plan B means you’re that much likelier to face a primary. By holding the test votes on Cut, Cap, and Balance, and the Balanced Budget Amendment, they can at least meet the Club for Growth, and similar groups half way.

They’ll hold the symbolic vote tomorrow. Republican politics over country — you can always count on that.

Poll: 71% unhappy with Republian Party’s handling of debt crisis (but 21% approve!)

via Charles Johnson:

According to a new CBS News poll, the American public doesn’t like the way any of our politicians are handling the debt crisis — but they’re especially, overwhelmingly unhappy with the Republican Party: Poll: 71% shun GOP handling of debt crisis.

And especially weird is that 21% say they APPROVE of the Republican Party’s handling of the debt crisis.

Who are these people who approve? Let’s try to guess:

  • 18% — Teapartyers (18% self-identify as the Tea Party nationally)
  • 2% — the wealthy
  • 1% — space aliens, nursing home residents, spouses or mothers of GOP congress members, men who want to propose marriage to Casey Anthony, Hamsher fans, all of Glenn Beck’s personalities, Marcus Bachmann’s degayed clients, the residents of Grapevine TX, McCain’s houses, al Qaeda, the household staffs of Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh (under duress), Palin’s kids, Ron Paul supporters, Sergeant Raymond Shaw, and PUMAs.

Who have I missed?

Government privatization and Minnesota’s government shutdown: this is Sparta! JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, The Real News Network
MICHAEL HUDSON, RESEARCH PROF., University of Missouri-Kansas City

JAY: So why should ordinary Americans or ordinary North Americans care about what’s going on in Greece?

HUDSON: Because what’s happening in Greece is a dress rehearsal for what’s going on in the United States. Already, a few weeks ago in Athens, the protestors had signs up referring to Wisconsin and the problems here. What’s happening in Greece in the last week is exactly what’s happened in Minnesota with the close-down of government. And the demands of privatization–Greece sell off its roads, its land, its port authority, its water and sewer–is just what Illinois’s been doing, what Chicago’s been doing, what Minnesota’s been told to do, and what American cities are trying to do. So you have an identical strategy being used between Greece and the United States. Greece is the first domino since Iceland. And the financial interests that are looking at this post-2008 debt crisis as a grab bag think now is the chance for us to make our move. Now we can take all this debt that we’ve built up and we can get out of the financial system, we can turn it into direct ownership of property. We can own the Greek islands, we can own the Greek public domain, just like we can own what Minnesota, Chicago, Wisconsin, and California own. And all of a sudden you have a huge virtual foreclosure process.  Read more…


A coworker’s husband is a state employee in Minnesota. I forwarded this article to her: One by one, Minnesota bars run out of beer — and here’s part of her response:

“We’ve got 22,000 state workers out of work, who are not paying MN tax, all road construction has stopped, so the state and all of those workers are losing wages and tax. all state parks are closed, no lottery sales, the horse race park has closed losing all of those workers’ pay and the revenues from this. We’re on day 13 of shutdown. The state workers can start claiming unemployment next week, costing the state more monies, but the workers will lose half of their normal pay, in additional to losing their contributions to retirement accounts. No back pay will be paid to them. Many feel the shutdown will last until the school year starts in September, because maybe that would make the Legislature wake up. (But maybe the beer shortage will have more impact.)”

This Republican solution in Minnesota is clearly a winner for everyone! What else can this political party f*ck up, I wonder?

This is Sparta